How To Build A Website From Scratch
A lot of people are very curious how to build a website from scratch. A decade ago if you wanted to build a website for your small business you pretty much had two options. You could hire a web developer and pay them several thousand dollars to build a website for you. Then you would wait several weeks, if not months, for them to build the website for you. On top of that, you would then be at their mercy to support you at an additional cost any time you wanted to make changes to the website.
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Fortunately, those days are long gone. Technology has advanced quickly and there is now an assortment of drag and drop web building tools available that make it extremely fast and easy to learn how to build a website from scratch on your own. Not only can you easily build the website on your own, but you can also maintain it yourself saving you the huge expense that used to go along with that task. Thousands of small business owners and bloggers are now able to build and maintain their own websites.
No matter whether you are looking for a personal blog to document your hobbies like travel or photography or if you are looking to create a website to get more exposure for an existing business or even if you are looking to spin up a full service ecommerce website I can assure you that there are web building tools that can help you get this done quickly and easily, with no programming experience required at all. Just a little bit of time and some creativity and you can build the website of your dreams for your blog or small business.
As long as you have a general idea of how you would like your website to look and feel, you can literally create a visually stunning and professional looking website in a matter of hours. Creating the website has now become the easy part which is great because you can now spend your valuable time focusing on running your business or creating valuable content for your blog.
No matter what the reason for building your website, you will follow the same very simple steps which include, choosing a website builder, securing your domain name, securing web hosting, choosing a template or theme and finally publishing content for your website. If that doesn’t sound easy, don’t worry, we’ve got step by step instructions for a number of different website builders that can make it easy for even novice computer users to build a beautiful, professional and fully functional website or blog.
The most important step in the process is choosing the right website builder for your project. We can guide you every step of the way! If you already know which website builder you would like to use, you can skip this article and jump right to one of our Step By Step guides on how to build a website or start a blog.
If you are not sure which website builder you want to use, keep on reading and we can help you make the right decision for your project.
How Much Does It Cost To Build A Website
Most website builders, like WordPress, are free to use. It is important to note that when we talk about WordPress, we are referring to WordPress.org and not WordPress.com. Wordpress.org is the free to use, open source software that you can build your website on.
WordPress.com is a web hosting platform that hosts WordPress websites but places a lot of restrictions on what you can do with your website. The best analogy that I’ve seen used to describe the difference between the two is that you can think of WordPress.org as owning a house and WordPress.com as renting a house. We recommend staying away from WordPress.com.
Other website builders like, Wix, Weebly and Shopify also have free versions that allow you to build a website at no cost but do charge for certain upgrades. Basically, besides the time you need to invest to build and maintain the website, the only real cost to owning a website is the cost to register a domain name each year as well as paying for your web hosting fees.
What Is WordPress Hosting
Your website files need to reside on a web server somewhere, available for people to access on the internet when they go to your website. In the case of Wix and Shopify, the web hosting fees are included in the monthly fees for their premium services so there is no need to purchase a separate web hosting plan. With WordPress, the website building tools are completely free to use, but you will need to purchase WordPress hosting from a hosting provider like Bluehost and they will install WordPress for you. Don’t worry, when you are ready to get started we have step by step instructions for how to do all of this and they are very easy to follow.
In terms of cost, you can secure shared web hosting for as little as $3/month but realistically, depending on the platform and options you choose, when first starting out you should expect to budget around $10-15 a month to maintain your website. Most hosting providers will also give you a free domain name for the first year as well. After that it costs around $10 per year to continue to register your domain name.
How Long Does It Take To Build A Website
This is a difficult question to answer as it completely depends on how complex of a website you want and what website builder you choose. If you choose Wix and you have most of the content like photos and things ready to go for a fairly basic website it shouldn’t take more than a day or two at most to build your website or blog. If you choose WordPress, you will have much more flexibility on what you can do in the future, but you will need to commit a little additional time up front as there will be a little bit more of a learning curve for you. WordPress is NOT difficult to learn, but it is not quite as simple as some of the template driven, drag and drop website builders like Wix.
Step By Step: How To Build A Website From Scratch
Step 1: Choose A Website Builder
The first step in how to build a website from scratch is to choose your website builder. There are lots of options available such as Wix, Weebly, WordPress, Shopify, etc. The options can be overwhelming as they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. The one you should choose will depend on A) what you are planning to do with your website and B) how comfortable you are building and maintaining a website.
For example, WordPress is one of the most robust content management systems there is. It is flexible, scalable and most importantly it is search engine friendly. In the very simplest terms, what that means is that you can create web pages that will rank high in google searches. When you spend your valuable time building a website for your business you certainly want people to be able to find it. The best part about WordPress is that it is open source which means it is completely free to use.
The downside to the flexibility (and price) of WordPress is that it has a slightly higher learning curve than a website builder like Wix. WordPress is not terribly difficult to learn, but Wix has an extremely easy to use drag and drop website builder that just about anyone can learn to use. A few years back I created my first website using Wix in my spare time in a single weekend. And even though I have a background in technology, I had no prior web development experience at all.
When learning how to build a website from scratch, Wix and WordPress are not your only two options. If you are looking to build an online shop to sell and ship products then you need to take a very close look at a website builder like Shopify which specializes in ecommerce. Shopify has ready to go tools available to organize your products and inventory, fulfill orders, handle shipping, accept payments, etc.
Yes, you can do all of this with WordPress as well, but Shopify makes it so much easier that it makes more sense for eCommerce solutions. So, as you can see, the answer to which website builder you should use will depend on what type of website you are building.
Here is my recommendation for you:
- If you are just looking for a relatively basic website or blog for a small business and you want the absolute simplest and easiest to use drag and drop tool available then you should choose Wix. WordPress is definitely more robust and flexible so if you are planning to do anything more advanced then I would steer you towards WordPress over Wix. But if all you need for your business is something simple like a home page, a contact page, a list of pricing/services offered, some photos, and maybe a basic blog, etc. then it would probably not be worth your time to learn WordPress if you are not going to be taking advantage of all it has to offer. If you want to build your website today with Wix we have a full step by step tutorial on how to get that started right away.
- If you are looking to open an online store to sell products, you could certainly build an extremely robust ecommerce site with WordPress. I’m a WordPress believer and I’d probably use it for just about any site I would build at this point but Shopify has made it so easy to spin up an ecommerce site that even I have a hard time not recommending Shopify for ecommerce solutions. Aside from Shopify specializing in ecommerce the main difference between Shopify and WordPress is that Shopify isn’t free to use like WordPress. Shopify is a paid service. You will pay a small monthly fee to use it but that fee includes your web hosting where with WordPress you would need to secure and pay for web hosting separately. The ease of use and the time you will save using Shopify vs. trying to build an eCommerce site with WordPress makes Shopify an easy choice for anyone with no prior website building experience. If you are looking to build an online store then click here to get started with Shopify.
- For just about any other type of website, if you asked me how to build a website from scratch I would recommend using WordPress. There is pretty much nothing you can’t build with WordPress. Over 30% of all websites on the web today are built on WordPress. Its free and relatively easy to use and there are plugins already available for just about anything you want to do on your website so there is absolutely no coding experience required. Most web hosting providers like Bluehost will install WordPress for you after you’ve secured your web hosting so there is really very little you need to do to get started.
Step 2: Secure your Domain Name and Web Hosting
If you’ve decided to go with Wix, then you can skip the remainder of these steps as all of their premium plans come with a free domain name and web hosting included in the price. If you want to get started with Wix then head over to our guide to building a website using Wix.
If you are going with WordPress, then you have to decide on a WordPress Hosting provider. There are literally hundreds of options and we could spend months reviewing them all. So, I am going to keep this simple and recommend that you stick with a WordPress.org recommended web host. Currently there are only three web hosts recommended by WordPress.org, Bluehost, Siteground or Dreamhost.
Though all 3 are great web hosts and you can’t go wrong with any of them, at WageBooster we highly recommend Bluehost so we listed some of the reasons below for you to consider Bluehost. Also, if you do decide to choose Bluehost we have a comprehensive, yet easy to follow step by step guide to help you get started.
Reasons To Choose BlueHost
- 1 of only 3 WordPress.org recommended web hosting providers in the world.
- Bluehost has been around for over 20 years and are one of the most reputable and reliable web hosts there is.
- 30 Day Money Back Guarantee
- 24/7 Support
- Free SSL
- WordPress Installation Done For You
- Automatic Daily Backups
- Free Domain With Your Hosting Plan
- Available VPS and Dedicated Servers If Your Website Grows And You Need To Upgrade Your Plan
- Unlimited Email Addresses
Step 3: Choose A WordPress Theme
The last topic we will cover in our guide on how to build a website from scratch is how to choose a WordPress theme. There are 1000’s of themes to choose from so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding something that gives your website the exact look and feel that you are trying to achieve. But with that many themes to choose from, where do you even start? That many options can be confusing and overwhelming for someone just starting out with WordPress. Well, the first step is to decide whether or not to choose a free theme or go with a premium theme.
There are thousands of free themes available from WordPress.org. The most obvious advantage to choosing a free theme is cost. But just because these themes are free doesn’t automatically make them of lesser quality than premium themes. In fact free themes go through a very rigourous review process before they are allowed to be offered in the WordPress.org themes directory. This means that free WordPress themes are generally very well coded and also usually support most available WordPress Plugins. If you are starting a blog just fun or are on an extremely tight budget then you can probably get away with using a free theme.
It should be noted that there are some disadvantages to using Free Themes. The main disadvantage is around support. WordPress theme developers that provide free themes are under no obligation to provide support or make updates to free themes. While they sometimes do provide support as a courtesy through the WordPress.org forums, many times you can find yourself on your own to fix any problems that may occur.
There are many advantages to spending the money to buy a premium theme. In addition getting premium support and updates, premium themes often come with additional features like drag and drop builders. Also because premium themes cost money, less people use them which can give you an opportunity to have a rather unique looking website. You’ll find free WordPress themes that have millions of downloads. Do you want your website to look exactly like millions of other websites?
As I said earlier, if you’re just starting out with a personal blog for fun and it’s critical to keep the costs low, then you can get by with a free theme. But if you are building a website for a business or if you’re building a blog that you plan to try to make money from in the future then I strongly suggest you find a high quality premium theme with premium support. When you’re running a business the last thing you want is to have a problem with your website and not be able to get the support you need. Wagebooster.com is built on a premium theme called Newspaper which was purchased from ThemeForest.
There are some important things to consider when choosing a premium WordPress theme:
- The theme MUST be mobile friendly. This isn’t an option anymore. Even if you are not planning to have much mobile traffic on your website, statistics show that more than 50% of all website traffic today is mobile traffic. As such google uses mobile friendliness as a big ranking factor so aside from having a poor user experience with your website when users are on mobile devices, you will also get penalized by Google from a search engine ranking standpoint if you don’t choose a mobile friendly theme. This is so important to Google that they include a mobile friendly tester within Google Webmasters tools. You can access it here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ Most premium themes have a live demo page you can visit to check out the look and feel of the theme. Be sure to put the demo page URL into Google’s mobile friendly test tool and verify it is mobile friendly before you even consider purchasing it.
- Check the Reviews. Stick to purchasing your premium theme from a reputable 3rd party marketplace like Theme Forest or Mojo Marketplace. The reason is that these will have thousands of reviews on the premium themes they have for sale. If a theme does not have stellar reviews, that’s a pretty easy indication you should steer clear of purchasing it. If a theme provider is not providing high quality support they will surely have poor reviews showing it.
- Make sure it comes with premium support and free updates. The main reason you are purchasing a premium theme is that you want to know that you are going to get the help you need if you have a theme related issue with your website. Most premium themes come with free updates and at least 1 year of support and then an option to add on for continued support after that if you still feel you need it.
Well that’s it for our guide on How To Build a Website From Scratch. We hope it helped you decide on the right website builder for your project. Depending on which Website Builder you chose, you may want to check out one of these Step By Step guides to building a Website or Blog:
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